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Vartan Gregorian
Vartan Gregorian, photo by Robin Holland
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January 30, 2009

"Education is very central to our democracy. You can neglect it, you can get it on the cheap, and you get what you pay for. And if you think education is costly, try ignorance. Because that will be far costlier."-- Vartan Gregorian
Last fall, Vartan Gregorian convened a group of educators to urge whoever would become our next president to invest in higher education. Their meeting later resulted in a two-page newspaper ad, an open letter to then president-elect Obama asking that whatever economic stimulus package comes out of Washington, five percent of it — around 40 to 45 billion dollars — go to higher public education. The administration appears to have heard their plea. The economic stimulus plan that Congress has been voting on contains $150 billion in new federal spending for education from nursery school through college, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

Of course, the spending allocations are not yet in place — and some of the contentious debate over the bill is over whether funding education is a stimulus or just an expenditure. Vartan Gregorian talked with Bill Moyers about the perilous economic state that higher education institutions and students find themselves in today.

>More on Crunching College Costs.

Vartan Gregorian

Vartan Gregorian is the twelfth president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grant-making institution founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911. Prior to his current position, which he assumed in June 1997, Gregorian served for nine years as the sixteenth president of Brown and, for eight years, Gregorian served as a president of the New York Public Library.

He was born in Tabriz, Iran, of Armenian parents, receiving his elementary education in Iran and his secondary education in Lebanon. In 1956 he entered Stanford University, where he majored in history and the humanities, graduating with honors in 1958. He was awarded a Ph.D. in history and humanities from Stanford in 1964.

Gregorian has taught European and Middle Eastern history at San Francisco State College, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of THE ROAD TO HOME: MY LIFE AND TIMES, ISLAM: A MOSAIC, NOT A MONOLITH, AND THE EMERGENCE OF MODERN AFGHANISTAN, 1880-1946.

In 1986, Gregorian was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and in 1989 the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters' Gold Medal for Service to the Arts. In 1998, President Clinton awarded him the National Humanities Medal. In 2004, President Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award.

In 1988 Bill Moyers talked with Vartan Gregorian about education and information at the cusp of the information age for the series A WORLD OF IDEAS.

>Watch that interview in its entirety.

Published January 30, 2009.

Photo by Robin Holland.

Related Media:
Economist Dean Baker and Journalist Bob Herbert: Facing Up to the Economy
Bill Moyers talks with economist Dean Baker and journalist Bob Herbert about the economic challenges facing the government and the populace. (August 8, 2008)

Susan Jacoby
Bill Moyers talks with Susan Jacoby about her new book, THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON. (February 15, 2008)


Martin E. Marty
Bill Moyers talks with historian Martin E. Marty about his recent book, THE MYSTERY OF THE CHILD. (August 17, 2007)

References and Reading:
The Carnegie Corporation
Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." Under Carnegie's will, grants must benefit the people of the United States, although up to 7.4 percent of the funds may be used for the same purpose in countries that are or have been members of the British Commonwealth, with a current emphasis on Commonwealth Africa. As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in this world."

"A giving recession?" THE ECONOMIST, January 6, 2009
THE ECONOMIST magazine talks with the Carnegia Corporation's Vartan Gregorian and Paul Brest of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation about the challenges facing philanthropic institutions in troubled economic times.

Guest photo by Robin Holland.

Also This Week:

MARILYN YOUNG AND PIERRE SPREY
Bill Moyers sits down with historian Marilyn Young, author of the forthcoming BOMBING CIVILIANS: A TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY and former Pentagon official Pierre Sprey, who developed military planes and helped found the military reform movement.

>Read an excerpt from BOMBING CIVILIANS: A TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY. (PDF)

>Read Pierre Sprey and Col. Robert Dilger's chapter in AMERICA'S DEFENSE MELTDOWN.

BOMBS AWAY?
The JOURNAL takes a closer look at the history of strategic bombing and America's current policy on bombing, exploring the ethics behind these assaults when civilians become the victims and asks: Does bombing work?

VARTAN GREGORIAN
Bill Moyers talks the twelfth president of Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian about the perilous state of higher education in America. Gregorian is the former president of the New York Public Library and Brown University.

>MOYERS DIGITAL ARCHIVE: Vartan Gregorian from THE WORLD OF IDEAS.

CRUNCHING COLLEGE COSTS
Both colleges and college students are facing touch economic times. Find out how much will a degree cost...and how much it is worth in the workplace.

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